We kneel after the Lamb of God


While reading the title of this editorial you might be thinking to yourself: “of course we kneel after the ‘Lamb of God.’” Curiously this is not a universal practice here in the United States (and in many parts of the world). Recently, two dioceses in California changed their liturgical practice to better reflect how the rest of the country worships. The Dioceses of Stockton and Oakland now require Catholics to kneel after the “Lamb of God” is recited. This story reminds us of two pivotal truths about Catholic liturgy.
The Code of Canon Law reminds us of the first truth: that bishops are “the directors, promoters, and guardians of the entire liturgical life in the church entrusted to them” (cf. Canon 835). They are the ones responsible for the proper worship of God by the faithful entrusted to them. This responsibility includes the authority to mandate certain liturgical practices to promote the unity, sanctification,and particular needs of the faithful of that diocese.
The second truth qualifies the first. The liturgy is a gift given to us by God. We did not create or invent the liturgy. Liturgy molds us, rather than us molding it. Even the bishop does not have complete power to change every aspect of the liturgy. Local communities can devise their own devotions and liturgical traditions, but always in conformity with the universal Church and the local bishop. Many devotions began as local initiatives (often from the inspiration of a saint), which were then universalized by the bishops of the Church. All this is to say that this news from California teaches us about the liturgy.